HDG Guide – What to do with an Extra PC?
October 22nd, 2012 by Aseem Kishore | File in: How-To (http://helpdeskgeek.com/category/how-to/)
I recently came across a great deal on a used PC. Before, I only owned one computer, but because this PC was priced so
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aggressively and I’ve been wanting to have an extra PC (with Windows 8 approaching), I didn’t pass it up. In today’s post, we
will review the top 10 uses for an extra computer.
The PC that I purchased is a Dell Core 2 Duo Desktop… for $20.00! It came with:
Refresh, Reinstall or Restore Windows 8
HDG Guide – Storage Spaces and Pools in
Windows 8 (http://helpdeskgeek.com/windows-
I have an extra hard drive, so I will simply need to purchase some cheap:
and it should be ready to go. I’m hoping to find some cheap RAM and a cheap CD/DVD drive for around $30.00, so that I will
have only spend $50.00 on the whole thing.
I plan to install Windows 8 on this PC, but as far as actual usage, I do most of my work on my other computer. So, I’ve been
doing a bit of research on the best uses for extra PCs. Here are some of the most popular uses for an extra PC that may just
be collecting dust, and also a few untraditional uses you may have not considered.
Install Windows Media Center on Windows 8
20 of The Best TV Streaming Devices
1. Extra PC
If you only have one primary computer in your home (or a few), and find yourself on the PC a lot, you may simply want to
consider adding an extra PC to your home. Particularly for people who have families or own homes with several rooms and
significant square ft. It can be convenient to have multiple PCs spread out through the home, so that you don’t have to carry a
notebook around with you, or if you have a desktop as a primary computer, having to go to the computer room each time you
want to use a PC.
For the modern, technology based homes, people have even installed computers in their garages and kitchens.
2. Media Server/File Server
If you have a multi-user home with several computers already, you may simply want to setup the extra PC as a media server
or file server. Check out my previous post on 7 programs to turn your PC into a streaming media server (http://www.onlinetech-tips.com/software-reviews/7-programs-to-turn-your-pc-into-a-streaming-media-center/).
HDG Guide – Storage Spaces and Pools in
Windows 8 (http://helpdeskgeek.com/windows8/hdg-guide-storage-spaces-and-pools-inwindows-8/)
Windows 8 Device Guide
As a media server, you can store all of your music, videos, photos and other files on the PC, share them with your other
computers in the home and even stream the media files to your TV. The PC will serve as a centralized location just for storing
your video, music and photo library.
HDG Guide to Customizing and Organizing the
Windows 8 Start Screen
As a file server, you can share files, folders, documents, etc… with all (or select) computers in your home or even across the
Internet. This makes it ultra convenient for basic file sharing, but also makes it simple to transfer computer files or data from
one PC to the other on your home network or to others remotely, without having to burn discs or use USB drives.
HTPC, or Home Theater PC, is another very popular use for extra computers. With an extra PC as a HTPC, you can setup your
computer in combination with your TV to do things like play Netflix, Hulu, Amazon VOD, etc… Additionally, if you have a TV
tuner card, USB tuner or network tuner, you can setup the HTPC + Windows Media Center, which will allow for TIVO
HDG Explains – Swapfile.sys, Hiberfil.sys and
Pagefile.sys in Windows 8
functionality (DVR) and even a live guide (if you don’t already have a cable box). Some of the most popular HTPC platforms
Windows Media Center (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/windows-media-center)
Should You Upgrade to Windows 8?
XBMC (Xbox Media Center) (http://xbmc.org/)
4. Backup PC
If you don’t have a NAS or backup drive for your important files and data on existing computers and aren’t backing up your
data, you may want to consider using the extra PC as a backup device. Using free software such as FreeNAS
(http://www.freenas.org/), you can very simply setup the extra PC as a network backup which can be used to backup multiple
Additionally, you can purchase an extra internal hard drive for the computer and set it up in mirrored RAID, which will
strengthen your backup plan.
Not wanting to use the extra PC as a backup PC, but do need a way to backup your data? Here are 7 additional options for
5. Storage PC
If the extra PC has significant hard drive capacity, you could simply use it as a generic storage location for files, programs,
installers and other PC data. Just install an operating system, connect it to your router/home network, and use the PC to store
all of the bulk software and files that you want to have, but that take up too much space or you prefer not to have on your
primary PC; kind of like a external hard drive.
If you believe that the extra PC will be of little to no use to you, you may want to consider donating or gifting the PC. Most
commonly, extra computers are gifted to family members who could use the PC, but you could also make a very nice holiday
gift out of the PC also, if it’s in decent condition. Have a nephew that likes playing PC games? Maybe purchase a decent video
card and gift the computer to him/her this Christmas as a gaming PC.
If you don’t have any family who would utilize the PC, you can also donate it to a cause. Most commonly, PCs are donated to
local schools or other non-profits who could use the computers. Local libraries are also a positive place to donate, because
they usually receive limited funding and have mid-range computers which are used by many people. Do not donate the
computer to a college… they charge each student anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 per semester to attend. They don’t
need donations, they are making plenty of money.
7. Children’s Computer
If you have kids, you could simply designate the extra PC as a children’s computer. This would likely add some insurance to
your PC while also giving your kids an opportunity to learn more about technology. Instruct them on how to install programs
and games, and encourage them to learn technology now, because they will be using it in the future. Also encourage them to
get outside and play with their friends! Technology isn’t everything.
8. Parts PC/Plan B
Another popular usage for extra computers is using them as Parts PCs or as a Plan B, should an existing PC fail or break
down. For example, if the hard drive, RAM, optical drive, etc… goes out on your primary PC, you could simply swap out the
parts from the extra PC and you’d be set to go, not having to purchase new components.
Additionally, should your primary computer fail all together, you could simply replace it with the extra PC.
9. Web Server
If you have a high speed internet connection such as cable or DSL, you can utilize the extra PC as a basic web server. With a
web server, you can host your own website, blog or even email, so no hosting fees! Here’s my guide on setting up your own
web server (http://helpdeskgeek.com/windows-xp-tips/setup-iis-windows-xp-web-server/).
10. Surveillance System
Surveillance systems are camera driven, but the core, like mostly anything technology these days, is usually based off of a
computer. Thus, you could purchase some compatible surveillance cameras for your home and use the extra PC as a
monitoring station for the system.
None of the above extra PC uses for you? Here are some additional options:
Build your own personal cloud server (http://www.online-tech-tips.com/cool-websites/build-your-own-personal-cloudstorage-server/)
Sell the computer – part it out and sell parts individually or sell as a whole
Contribute to open source projects – connect the extra PC to the internet and contribute to projects such as Berkley’s
Giveaway – if you have a website, blog or even YouTube channel, you could giveaway the computer to a loyal fan or
Auction for charity – Auction off the computer at a local or online auction, with 100% of the proceedings going to your
Install the PC into your vehicle and use it as a mobile computer – add-on a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot device from your wireless
provider and get internet on the go
Use it as a dedicated firewall, router or antivirus layer
Convert the extra computer into a gaming server for your favorite game
Make someone’s day – Go into your local Best Buy or Frys and people watch those who are considering purchasing a new
PC. Find a worthy person and offer to give them the PC for free, saving them up to $500 that they would have spent on a
new PC, on the spot! Do not offer the PC to any man wearing a Gucci jacket or any woman with a Louis Vuitton purse.
Learn something new – Install an operating system that you are unfamiliar with, use it as a coding/programming
Thank you for stopping by the site for today’s post, which lists 20 ways in total to utilize a spare or extra computer. If any of
our site visitors have any other uses for extra computers, feel free to list them in the comments. Enjoy!
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One Response to “HDG Guide – What to do with an Extra PC?”
Wow! That was a *great* deal, and I’d like to get in on that sort of system for the local school!
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ASE E M KISHOR E
Founder of Help Desk Geek and managing editor.
He began blogging in 2007 and quit his job in
2010 to blog full-time.
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ABOUT H ELP DESK GEEK
Welcome to Help Desk Geek- a blog full of help desk tips for
IT Professionals. My name is Aseem Kishore and I work as a
Systems Analyst in Dallas, TX. I graduated from Emory
University in Atlanta, GA in 2002 with a degree in Computer
Science and Mathematics.
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